Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the northeastern town of Izium had become the last place Russians left behind mass graves.
Zelenskyy said Thursday that Ukrainian authorities had found a mass burial site near Izium in the recently recaptured Kharkiv region previously occupied by Russian forces.
“Bucha, Mariupol, now, unfortunately, Izium,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly televised address, adding that confirmation would likely come on Friday. “Russia leaves death everywhere. And it must be held accountable. The world must make Russia take real responsibility for this war.”
The Associated Press reported that its reporters saw the site in a forest outside Izium on Thursday. A mass grave had a marker indicating that it contained the bodies of 17 Ukrainian soldiers. It was surrounded by hundreds of individual graves with only crosses to mark them.
TURNING POINT IN THE UKRAINE WAR:As Russia admits defeat in Kharkiv, Ukraine regains ground and confidence
►The UN atomic agency’s board of governors, made up of 35 countries, passed a resolution on Thursday calling on Russia to immediately end its occupation of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, where the bombing of the facility and nearby areas in recent weeks has heightened fears of a possible radioactive disaster.
►Superstar guard Stephen Curry of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors said his “contacts in the Biden administration rejected an offer of help” efforts to free WNBA star Brittney Griner from Russian captivity.
Tensions were rising in Russian villages bordering the Kharkiv region on Thursday as the roar of Ukrainian army firepower closed in on the border.
The governor of Russia’s Belgorod region said residents were injured when Ukrainian shells hit a border village, and private homes, farm buildings and power lines in another were partially destroyed. Vyacheslav Gladkov also ordered the evacuation of several villages.
Ukraine took over thousands of miles and more than 300 villages and towns this month. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said Russian troops fleeing Ukraine’s advance are massing at the Belgorod border, where other Russian troops are preventing them from crossing.
“They have no communication with the command,” the ministry said in a statement. “There are no food and ammunition supplies.”
The New York Times and the wall street journal, reporting from Belgorod in recent days, found residents who expressed fear and concern. A teacher said she told students who heard missiles that the noise was just thunder.
Some residents fled to Belgorod from Ukrainian villages after working for Russian administrations – only for Russians to abandon Ukrainian towns. Now they fear revenge from the Ukrainian authorities who consider them traitors.
President Joe Biden will hold separate meetings At the White House Friday with relatives of WNBA star Brittney Griner and Michigan security official Paul Whelan, the Associated Press reported, citing senior administration officials.
This will be the first face-to-face contact between the President and family members of the two Americans held captive in Russia, considered by the US government to be “wrongfully detained”.
The Biden administration said in July it had made a “substantial offer” to bring them home in a prisoner swap, but those efforts have so far proven fruitless.
Griner has been detained in Russia since February on drug-related charges. She was sentenced last month to nine years in prison after pleading guilty and appealing the sentence. Whelan is serving a 16-year sentence on espionage-related charges that he and his family say are false. Bill Richardson, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, visited Moscow this week to discuss their release.
Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged that China has “questions and concerns” over Moscow’s war in Ukraine when he met with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in Uzbekistan on Thursday.
“We highly appreciate the balanced position of our Chinese friends in the context of the Ukrainian crisis,” said Putin, who took the opportunity to castigate the West. “We understand your questions and concerns in this regard.”
Putin’s rare mention of Chinese concerns comes as Beijing worries about the impact of volatile oil prices and economic uncertainty stemming from a war that has lasted nearly seven months and has seen Russia suffer embarrassing setbacks on the battlefield.
China the economy has already experienced a slowdown this year largely because of its strict anti-COVID measures. Russia has dramatically increased its energy sales to China in recent months as European purchases have fallen due to sanctions.
Xi made no reference to Ukraine in his public comments at the side meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a security alliance created to counteract US influence. The alliance also includes India, Pakistan and four former Soviet countries in Central Asia.
Some Russian troops in Kharkiv ‘flee in apparent panic’, UK ministry says
The Russian retreat from the Kharkiv region, where Ukrainian forces consolidated their recently recaptured territory, was in some cases orderly, but at other times troops “fleed in apparent panic”, the British ministry said. of the defense. said in an intelligence update.
In the process, the Russians left behind valuable equipment “essential to enable Russia’s artillery-centric style of warfare”, the ministry said, concluding that such abandonment illustrates “localized breakdowns in command and control”.
Contribute: The Associated Press